The U.S. Army Band served overseas from June 15, 1943 to June 15, 1945. During this time, the Band received the Rhineland Campaign Battle Streamer for activities near the front in France and Belgium during late 1944. The Rhineland Campaign was one of the final battles of the war and took place between September 15, 1944 and March of 1945.
The Army Band aboard the “Lawton B. Evans” en route to Sicily, 1944.
The Band departed from Hampton Roads, Virginia, aboard the S.S. Mariposa and arrived in Casablanca, Morocco. The Band’s deployment was kept very secretive until the Band arrived in Africa. In fact, some Band members departed without actually informing their families.
The Army Band in concert during World War II.
The Band was based in Algiers from July of 1943 until April of 1944. During that time, the band was housed at the Bon Pasteur monastery. The Band led the Bastille Day celebrations while in Algiers. On September 6, at Bizerte, Tunisia, the Band was strafed by German military aircraft. The bandsmen dove for foxholes and fired back with the .45 caliber pistols that some of them had been issued.
From April 1944 to September 1944, the Band was based in the United Kingdom. During this period, the Band performed for troops assembled in staging areas preparing for the upcoming Normandy invasion. The Band also performed at hospitals that treated men injured in the invasion.
The Army Band in Verdun, France, October, 1944.
From October 1944 to June 1945, the Band was based in France. In Verdun, a concert was performed for a huge crowd at the Monument de la Victoire on October 17. This concert held much meaning for the French residents as Verdun had been the center of the most fierce fighting during World War I and had only recently been liberated from Germans in the current conflict.
In December, while in Antwerp, Belgium, the band experienced a German V-2 rocket bomb attack. During the attack, clarinetist Flavius Bartlett was wounded and subsequently received the Purple Heart.
The Army Band marches past the Arc De Triomphe, Paris.
On March 15, 1945, the Band performed at the ceremony honoring the 101st Airborne Division’s defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. On March 25, the Band performed at the Paris Opera House with conductor Andre Kostelanetz and soprano Lily Pons. On May 15, the Band marched in a parade on the Champs-Elysees in front of the Arc de Triomphe. The band returned to the United States the following month.